Today, Europe is so well connected by air that our feet barely have to touch the ground between leaving for our holiday, and arriving at our destination. But if you’re just a little bit old-fashioned like me, then you’ll appreciate that sometimes the adventure is in the journey itself. Europe is home to some of the greatest, most scenic roads in the world. Let’s take a look at some European drives that have to be driven to be believed.
The alpine regions of France, Switzerland and Austria all provide stunning driving – there are too many highlights to list here. But the iconic Stelvio Pass in northern Italy trumps all contenders. A devilishly twisty mountain pass – the second highest in the Alps – the Stelvio Pass boasts some 48 hairpin turns and some of the most stunning scenery the Alps has to offer.
This remarkable stretch of coastal road was voted Norway’s “construction of the century” in 2005. Only five miles long, but twisting and turning across tiny islands and low bridges jutting out over the sea, this short drive is as exhilarating as they come. Norway offers so much natural beauty, but in this case, a rare piece of man-made heaven enhances the spectacular landscape.
The Transfăgărăşan Highway is as spectacular as it is difficult to pronounce. Connecting the cities of Sibiu and Pitești, and taking in the highest peak in Romania and the second highest along it’s route, this road is something special. The highway itself is truly a wonder to behold, etched into one of the wildest and most awe-inspiring landscapes imaginable. The Top Gear motoring show branded this “the best road in the world”, and it’s easy to see why.
One for the lovers, Amalfi is noted as one of Europe’s most romantic destinations. The Amalfi Coast Road clings to the cliffs linking beautiful towns and villages terraced into the hillsides – it is amongst the most idyllic places in Europe and deemed by UNESCO as “an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values”. The drive along the coastal road is truly breathtaking – a remarkable feat of engineering coupled with magnificent Mediterranean vistas.
Another mind-boggling mountain pass, the Trollstigen combines phenomenal driving with the most staggering landscapes – the perfect balance for the perfect road. The Trollstigen weaves its way through the valley, dissected by the Stigfossen waterfall and flanked by giant peaks. A viewing platform high above the carriageway provides an immense birds-eye view of the majestic splendour of this road, and this remarkable landscape.
One for real petrolheads, the Nürburgring circuit in Germany is one of the world’s great race tracks, and it’s open to the public so you can take on it’s banked curves and sweeping chicanes yourself. The notorious “Nordschleife” configuration of the circuit is 13 miles long and provides a stern challenge for even accomplished racing drivers. However, as a tourist you can trundle round it at your own pace, taking in the awe-inspiring surroundings and the simple beauty of a road designed purely for racing.
The Millau Viaduct is a road bridge spanning the river Tarn and its valley in the south of France. But it’s not just any bridge – it’s a Norman Foster designed masterpiece of engineering, the tallest bridge in the world and one of the most beautiful roads. The structure, stretching out across rolling French hills, is a jaw-dropping sight and a truly rewarding driving experience for the traveller who just wants to enjoy the journey.